I usually look forward to winter as a break from the heat and a chance to see our luscious trees morph into objects that look like giant fingertips reaching into the sky. Though many of us locals end up driving home in the dark at 5:30 p.m. during daylight saving time, I love how the holidays offer a together-we-hibernate vibe.
If you’re anything like I used to be, you might be dreading the darkness that comes with daylight saving time.
But then I read The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, and it completely changed my attitude. Instead of dreading it, I started embracing winter. Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is the Danish word for happiness, coziness and contentment. Hygge is more of an experience than a word, which is why there is no exact translation in English.
Wiking’s book focuses on a few simple components of living to make winter much more enjoyable: Light, Food & Drink, Hygge Outside the Home, and others. Many of these components do not cost money, just a change in perspective or routine.
Here are some ways you can have a cozy, comfy, content and happy time in SoIN this winter:
Have you ever walked into a home, restaurant, or bar that had absolutely no overhead lighting, yet seemed to glow with ambient candlelight and warm lamps? The feeling of intimacy and relaxation embraces you immediately, and you feel the instant sensation of home.
Both downtowns in Jeffersonville and New Albany offer a wonderful experience of draping twinkle lights as you walk down the streets to shop, get some fresh air or eat dinner. With beautiful alleyways and gorgeous storefronts, the lights give you an instant sense of nostalgia.
Food & Drink
Throughout the pandemic, I have been so moved by the community to support our local hospitality industry as they have quickly pivoted their business models to accommodate guidelines while still providing dining options for patrons. Some restaurants continue to offer heated patio service for those who prefer the safety of outdoor dining without risking comfort in the cooler temperatures.
In Jeffersonville, you can enjoy the heated patio at Parlour or even book one of their heated igloos equipped with an adjustable heater, Bluetooth speaker and hanging lights!
Huber's Orchard, Winery & Vineyards is also taking reservations for heated igloos set up in their outdoor patio. Each igloo features twinkle lights, seasonal decor and games.
In New Albany, you can count on The Exchange to provide heated outdoor seating.
Break the Winter Blues Outside
Movement is so important in the winter to combat seasonal depression, maintain physical health, and breathe in that cool, crisp winter air when our bodies need a hibernation break. Whether you are a local or are on a weekend visit, Southern Indiana offers outdoor activities to get your steps in and get you out of the house.
If you want a little more involved activity, look no further than the six golf courses in Southern Indiana. With a couple of extra layers, your golf experience will be a much-needed respite, especially with great winter rates.
My husband and I love to hike in the winter -- though you may not see the buds of spring or the rich foliage of autumn, winter hiking is a preferable way to avoid the heat (layers are key here) and to see the landscape beyond the trails. Bring along a pair of binoculars to do some winter birding. With the leaves down, it's easier to spot feathered friends.
Clark State Forest in Clark County offers an incredible variety of hiking trails from easy to difficult, with rolling hills, gorgeous lakes, and lighter crowds than in the busy season. You can also access the southern end of the Knobstone Trail (Indiana's longest hiking trail) from this location.
Charlestown State Park is a fantastic choice for nice, short hikes that are very family-friendly with views of the Ohio River and the forest.
For more outdoor recreation, I highly recommend The Falls of the Ohio State Park, which you can access off the Ohio River Greenway, to see the historical Devonian fossil beds and riverside trails through the woods. The fossils beds are typically seen when river levels are low, so check with the Falls of the Ohio before your visit to make sure they’re visible. The Greenway offers great views of downtown Louisville and the Ohio River, and it is perfect for walking or biking with your family and friends.
And finally, the Big Four Bridge is a simple, accessible, and cozy walking experience -- especially if you start at dusk to catch the sunset over the Ohio River, followed by the glowing bridge lights that will make any walker happy and energetic.
Whether you’re golfing, hiking, eating at your favorite restaurant patio or making cider with your family, I hope this winter brings you a sense of togetherness -- a sense of community -- even when things are uncertain.